Can I file a criminal case against my relative who deliberately destroyed the gate of my house?
The act of your relative in deliberately destroying your gate amounts to the crime of malicious mischief which is penalized under Article 327 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), to wit:
“Article 327. Who are liable for malicious mischief.Any person who shall deliberately cause the property of another any damage not falling within the terms of the next preceding chapter shall be guilty of malicious mischief.”
There are certain persons however, who are exempt from criminal liability in crimes against property such as malicious mischief. These are enumerated in Article 332 of the RPC, to wit:
“Article 332. Persons exempt from criminal liability.—No criminal, but only civil liability, shall result from the commission of the crime of theft, swindling or malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by the following persons:
1. Spouses, ascendants and descendants, or relatives by affinity in the same line;
2. The widowed spouse with respect to the property which belonged to the deceased spouse before the same shall have passed into the possession of another; and
3. Brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, if living together.
The exemption established by this article shall not be applicable to strangers participating in the commission of the crime.”
If your relative is not among the persons aforementioned, you may file a criminal complaint against him before the Office of the Prosecutor of the place where the gate destroyed is located. To successfully prosecute him on the crime of malicious mischief, you shall need to prove the following: 1) your relative deliberately caused damage to your gate; 2) such act does not constitute arson or other crimes involving destruction; 3) the act of damaging your gate was committed merely for the sake of damaging it (Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book Two (13th Ed.), page 753).
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts that you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
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